Commentary

Are Social Apps Bumming People Out?

This post was previously published in an earlier edition of Mobile Insider.

At least on a national level, good news has recently been in short supply. Folks have more cause for disagreement, with more platforms on which to butt heads than ever before.

It should come as no surprise, then, that people aren’t in the best mood when using social apps like Facebook and Twitter.

Compared to average app users, in fact, social app users were 3.2 times more likely to be in a negative mood during the third quarter of the year, according to recent research from mobile video ad firm AdColony.

Also -- somewhat remarkably, I would think -- social app users were two times more likely to be in a negative mood than consumers using a news app, AdColony found.

Letting people frame the conservation is always risky, according to Bryan Buskas, Chief Customer Officer at AdColony.

“Any environment that relies heavily upon user generated content is apt to variably affect users’ moods,” he tells me.

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Of course, the research raises of ton of questions for social giants and their ad partners: Are people in bad moods more inclined to open social apps, or do the apps bring them down? Are bummed-out consumers less receptive to ads in general, or might their sour moods make them more amenable to certain products and marketing messages?

There don’t appear to be clear answers to these questions quite yet. “As the sentiment data was collected at a single point in time for each user, the actual causality for their moods is unknown,” according to Buskas.

With billions of dollars on the line, however, social apps and advertisers should no doubt take these issues seriously.

In the meantime, we know what sort of apps and ads are correlated with better moods among mobile consumers. People playing mobile games on their phones, for example, are usually in pretty good spirts, AdColony finds.

Indeed, 77% of respondents playing a mobile game at the time they were surveyed reported being in a good mood, compared to 61% of those engaging with a non-gaming app.

Additionally, the firm found that 75% of mobile users were in a good mood while engaging with in-app ads.

As for why, Buskas explains: “Many of the frustrations we have on our phones are the result of in-browser experiences that aren’t optimized for mobile devices.” Yet, “As this survey was distributed 100% in-app, respondents were already in more enjoyable and user-friendly environments.”

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